Answering Your Child’s Coronavirus Questions

With news of coronavirus everywhere, it’s not just adults who have questions. Even young children may be picking up bits of information from school, friends and neighbors. The challenge is helping them understand it in a way that’s age-appropriate and reassuring.

So what do you say when your child comes to you with questions about coronavirus?

Developmental pediatrician Robert D. Keder, MD, joins the blog with some suggested answers.

TIP: Start by assessing what your child already knows, don’t offer more information than they need, and model calm behavior. Read 8 Tips for Talking to Kids About Coronavirus for more advice.

What is coronavirus?

Coronavirus is a new kind of germ that we call a virus. There lots of different types of germs, like ones that give you a stomach ache or a runny nose. Coronavirus is a germ that causes a disease called COVID-19, which is sort of like the flu. Some people feel just a little sick. Other people cough, get a fever, or have a hard time breathing.

Why is everyone talking about it?

A lot of adults around the world have gotten sick from coronavirus. People are trying really hard to make sure no one else gets sick, so we’re all talking about how to stay healthy.

Are kids getting sick too?

Only a few kids have gotten sick from coronavirus. They only had mild symptoms, which means it was no big deal. For the most part, they just had to stay home from school to make sure they don’t spread it to any of their friends or teachers.

> Want help getting your family through COVID-19? Check out our School Closure Kit

Has anyone gotten really sick?

The people who get more sick from coronavirus are usually much older, or already have some problem with their health.

How does coronavirus spread?

It spreads the same way colds and flus spread: through boogers and spit. A person who is sick might cough or sneeze out tiny droplets that contain germs. If you are standing close or touch something that they coughed or sneezed on, their germs could get on you.

How does someone catch the coronavirus?

A person catches the coronavirus if the germs get on your face, in your mouth, in your eyes, or in your nose.

How do I make sure I don’t catch it?

By practicing healthy habits!

  •  Make it a special mission to remember to wash your hands. Wash with soap and water after going to the bathroom, before eating, after blowing your nose, when you get home after being at school or your friend’s house (just like you should be doing anyway!). Use soap and water, and keep scrubbing until you’ve counted to 20 or sung the “Happy Birthday” song twice.
  • Try to keep your hands busy and away from your mouth, eyes, and nose. Try reading a book, drawing, dancing or playing a game!
  • Stand far away from people who are coughing or sneezing.
  • If you need to sneeze or cough, use a tissue and then throw it in the trash (or if you don’t have time to grab a tissue, sneeze or cough into your elbow).
  • Get a good night’s sleep.

Why does everyone sound so worried?

It can be hard when a lot of adults are sick and have to stay home at the same time, since adults have a lot of responsibilities. (Think about if all the teachers at your school stayed home sick on the same day!)

Around here, only a couple people have gotten sick. But we want to keep it that way. So we’re all going out of our way to remind each other to practice healthy habits, and thinking of new ways to keep people healthy.

What happens if I get coronavirus, or you or anyone else I know?

If anyone gets sick and worries they have the coronavirus, they can call their doctors right away for help. Then they’ll probably take time off from school or work until they feel better, just like we normally do when we’re sick.

Should I be scared?

No. Lots of doctors, scientists and other adults are working hard to keep everyone healthy, and we’re taking all the right steps to keep everyone healthy. Plus, we’re getting a lot of good practice at healthy habits, which protect us from all kinds of germs!

How can I help?

You can be a good helper and citizen by doing two things. First, keep being a good hand washer and keep practicing those healthy habits! Second, you can also check in on people and cheer them up! If school is closed or someone is sick, ask your parents if you can call or video chat with your grandparents, cousins, aunts, uncles or friends to ask how they are doing and share a smile.

Learn more about coronavirus >>


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